Garden Photo of the Day

Gardening Through Intense Weather

After a rough start, this garden pulled through

late summer flowers around a small table and chairs

Today we’re visiting with Kim Herdman, in Williams Lake, British Columbia, Canada, who has had a difficult gardening year. Fortunately, many of the plants managed to pull through and perform anyway.

spring garden full of tulipsThis year was again a series of challenges in the garden. We had a cold spring with late frosts. There were quite a few nights that I had to go out and put pots on top of the dahlias and maybe one or two nights when I got taken by surprise. So now here in September they are still refusing to open, and some never even grew.

garden full of flowers in bloomWe had a couple of weeks of normal weather, and the garden bounced into glory. The forget-me-nots (Myosotis sylvatica, Zones 3–8) were magical—then almost overnight they looked raggedy and had to be pulled.

wilted pink flowerThen when the roses were full to bursting with buds and the peonies were fat and delicious, we had the heat dome! The temperature soared to over 44°C (111°F), and the roses either fried to a crisp when they opened or the flowers opened and were done in a day. The peonies fried, and the lilies that were in bud fried. The only areas that seemed to be able to cope were in the shade of trees or shrubs. I tried to shade things, but it was pretty hopeless.

hail the size of quarters in a handAfter the heat dome, the temperatures were still in the high 30s Celsius (over 95°F), and then we got wildfire smoke, which darkened the sky. Ash covered leaves and flowers. We could not put enough water into the earth. We longed for rain. We got it! It came in the form of a severe storm. Not only did it pour, but it rained hail the size of nickels and in some instances even quarters!

large leaf covered in holesAnything with a big leaf was shredded, the tomatoes were broken, and any fruit was knocked off or had holes pounded into them. The fried lily buds were now battered with holes, and any in flower were shredded. The heat continued, as well as drought, and our time in the garden basically was wandering around with a watering can or hose trying to keep things watered.

summer garden in bloomAnd then things recovered, and amazingly the fried and battered lilies even bloomed!

late summer flowers around a small table and chairsLater summer flowers thrived, despite the rough start.

woman next to a tree in her gardenI had the energy and time to do a little remodeling in the garden. Sometimes things seem like a good idea at the time. This year clearly showed me that adaptations need to be made to cope with climate change. I made the planting space bigger and dug up a pear tree from the backyard to offer shade in the hot front garden. The tree will also help with traffic noise and hopefully with the exhaust from idling cars.

summer garden in full sunThe summer garden full of blooms

tomatoes of various sizes in someones handsAnd despite the hail, the tomatoes produced as well!


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View Comments


  1. garden1953 09/22/2021

    Your garden is beautiful despite the challenging weather!

  2. sandyprowse 09/22/2021

    In all honesty we in Toronto Canada did not think of the destruction to the garden. Our hearts went out to the people of BC and the wild animals trying to cope and survive the perils inflicted upon them. Thank you for sharing this story. It is an eye-opener. You survived as did the garden. Bravo!

  3. User avater
    user-7007816 09/22/2021

    What an adventure you have had. Great job.

  4. User avater
    treasuresmom 09/22/2021

    Adapt is the middle name of most gardeners. All you have done is lovely.

  5. brackenfairy 09/22/2021

    Thanks for sharing the journey of this summer! I garden near Portland so experienced everything but the hail! It’s amazing how a garden can survive and bounce back and look as lovely as yours does in the fall. My main takeaways from this year were 1) shade is good 2) get some drip irrigation going. 3) was going to be move to Canada but now I wonder.

  6. User avater
    simplesue 09/22/2021

    With all those challenges from Mother Nature and you still managed to pull off a wonderful garden!
    Wow what an amazing story!
    And what an amazing flower garden!
    This was such an interesting gardening story!

  7. user-6824606 09/22/2021

    Just goes to show you how resilient our gardens and the gardeners too, are. Thankfully there was something good happening at the end of the season.

  8. btucker9675 09/22/2021

    Wow!!! Your garden looks so beautiful despite the unbelievable weather challenges. I feel embarrassed that I've been complaining about the weather here this year... Hope next year will be easier and your garden will be even more gorgeous!

  9. [email protected] 09/22/2021

    Loved your narrative, Kim! And your garden. I'm outside of Seattle, so also had some of the trials you had, as well as learning some lessons (maybe don't try fuchsia baskets next year, because it was impossible to keep them hydrated!). You truly have a great attitude, and a great garden!

  10. nicki_s 09/22/2021

    It sounds like you endured practically everything nature could throw at you except a plague of locusts! It must have been terribly frustrating, but your garden is lovely anyway,

  11. reymac214 10/14/2021

    This garden is so beautiful. it's like a paradise. thank you for sharing this article.

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